It occurred to me today that the gospel writers might indeed have been cycle tourist. I can just picture them riding around the Galilean planes sporting colourful Ortlieb panniers, discussing what is the best gearing ratio for the long distance set up.
No seriously they must have been touring bikers otherwise they would have not been consistently using the third day metaphor for resurrection. Indeed this is the third day of riding, the one that comes after the terrible second day. And precise like a swiss watch it was a day of cycling bliss. On the third day the body truly resurrected.
I am all packed from last night, I am sharing the room with an Argentinian motorcyclist from Cordoba that talks a lot (good), but is quite fast (bad). On the whole though he’s a good guy and we, and the hostel owner Sebastian have a good laugh at all the crazy things people do on bikes and motorbikes. As I said I’m packed as I do not want to disturb him and I’m out for breakfast and to leave pretty sharp. After the ritual picture for the Facebook site (HostelArgentinoRioGrandwebsite), Sebastian says bye bye and I go.
The route takes me west first, almost into the wind, and then south-east, with the wind in my tail.
I keep getting speeded up by the wind for a bunch of miles, fast and with little effort. It is not difficult to feel really powerful when the wind is behind you, but this adds to the third day feeling.
In roughly three hours of uninterrupted cycling I cover half of the distance to Tolhuin the place I had, on bad wind expectation, thought I would have reached by tomorrow night. It looks like I will make it there tonight instead. On this stretch I also meet a bunch of cyclists going the other way. One chap from the Czech Republic in particular is completely downed by the wind and asks me for water. I feel you mate!
I stop for some food in the first place that offers a bit of a view and tuck into my bread and cured meat (not salami) store.
After that I move along a bit to a more sheltered verge and lie down for a bit. While I’m sitting there I see a motorbike stopping and, there he is, my Cordoban friend that stops for a little chat and a picture. He’s off to Ushuaia for the day and then he’ll revert to Rio Grande for the night.
After he leaves I lay down on the grassy verge listening to music and staring at the sky. I don’t know why but it’s hard to convey how this is a cool thing. I suspect it’s because laying down at the side of the A5 in Nuneaton might be what springs in the mind of the readers. Believe me, here it’s better.
After lunch I had another thirty or so miles before getting to Tolhuin and the scenery slowly started to change, with more vegetation and ondulation.
After some seven hours of cycling I get to Tolhuin and quickly identify the the “Casa del Ciclista” where I am staying for two nights.
The “Casa del Ciclista” is a south american thing. It’s not really a network, it’s not something organised, it’s just places where cyclists can go and camp out, generally for free. This one in Tolhuin has been recomended to me bay at least six distinct people.
As i got into the place I met Sebastian, a German cycle tourist that got here more or less one year ago and made his home here. I do share the room with him, he’s super friendly and, as most people are, dead interested in my choice of propulsion. He’s running a little research project, taking down names ages and pictures of all the cyclists that go through the “Casa del Ciclista”.
After getting settled I move to the main building and I meet one of the highlights of the trip so far, the happy family.
Sebastien, Alberta, Angela and Anna are a family from near Vittorio Veneto in Italy that have decided to take a rather different path for the next 18 months, they will cycle the length of South America.
They have a special interest in the slow food movement and all that is sustainable, together with the ambition of raising their daughters in a way that will teach them something more that they could learn in a school. To say that I admire them is an understatement and if you want to know more about them the site is: http://www.happyfamilybiocycling.com/
I am normally very critical of my country of origin, but then I meet people like these, or indeed the merry bunch from Alessandria (of whom more in future posts) and I get reminded of why, perhaps, there is greatness in the Italian nation after all.
I spend the evening talking to Sebastien and Alberta as well as discovering that I’m carrying a wound in my rear wheel. I thought that the short length of the spokes would have been an insurance against breakages but it turns out I was wrong. Three have got busted and they are all more or less on the same side.
This means that first thing in the morning the communal areas becomes once again, I’ve been told two days before there was a big maintenance day, a workshop. I have to disassemble the wheel take off spokes from different sides of the wheel and fill the gap left by the broken spokes.
It is also time to say goodbye, the happy family it’s on its way north towards Rio Grande and the journey which will deliver them to Colombia in 18 months time.
They were great fun and inspirational and I hope to see them again, either on their travels or back in Italy. The Panaderia has truly been a place to remember.
With not much desire to do anything else I go for a walk around town, just to say I did it rather than anything else. It’s ok, a bit fronteer like, what I imagine a town in Alaska would look like. I don’t know why but I’m getting a bit sick of this incessant reference to the war and the claims down here, but I am.
The stay at the bakery has a last twist in the tale. At night while I am chatting away with some Brazilian cyclists, a bunch of Italians come in and ask me if I’m the Scottish Italian with the Brompton. We get chatting and, as we are all going the same direction we decide to join up for mañana.
Mañana Yo me pregunto cuándo va a ser
Mañana Yo me pregunto cuándo va llegar
Mañana Yo me pregunto cuándo, cuándo va a ser